Lilian Greenwood displays the confused thinking of Labour in its enthusiasm for a runway

The Labour party remains in a mess on what to do on runways. They have a position of stating that “Labour will study the government’s proposals carefully, alongside any additional material that is commissioned, and we will respond on the basis of our four tests for aviation expansion. These are: 1.That robust and convincing evidence was produced that the Commission’s recommendations would provide sufficient capacity.  2. That the UK’s legal climate change obligations could still be met.  3. That local noise and environmental impacts can be managed and minimised.  4. That the benefits of any expansion were not confined to London and the South East.” But, though Lilian Greenwood, the Shadow Transport Secretary herself bought up a bit of Airplot in 2009 to prevent a Heathrow runway, she now says: “There is no doubt … that we need a new runway.”  And “Aviation expansion is a matter of national significance and, having committed to addressing the problem head on, David Cameron faces a loss of credibility if he ducks the issue now. The UK needs additional capacity, but the prospect of any expansion is now in doubt.” But Labour itself says the runway has to meet the 4 conditions. And in reality that is not possible. So Labour’s position?
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Heathrow or Gatwick? It’s make your mind up time for David Cameron

By Lilian Greenwood (Labour’s shadow transport secretary)

28.12.2015 (City Metric)

She says: 

“Few policy problems have proved to be as intractable as providing new airport capacity – but the case for action is overwhelming.

The UK has produced a long list of discarded plans for new airports. Lullingstone, Cubbington and Maplin Sands were all unrealised, and Boris Johnson’s Thames Estuary Airport on the Isle of Grain looks set to join them. Even when new runways have been built, they have provoked intense local and ecological protests. The construction of a second runway at Manchester Airport 15 years ago was a case in point.

There is no doubt, however, that we need a new runway. Heathrow is full, and it has been for a decade. Gatwick operates at 85 per cent of its capacity, and it too is effectively full during the peak period. No new full-length runway has been built in the South East since the 1940s. [The reason is that the UK built a lot of full length runways for the RAF in the War. AW note].

Redistributing demand to underutilised airports is easier in theory than in practice, and the Airports Commission found that, without action, the entire London airport network would be operating at the limits of its capacity by 2040.

It has become clear over the last few days that David Cameron is hamstrung. He commissioned an independent report that strongly recommended Heathrow expansion, yet he is also faced with the threat of a by-election triggered by his mayoral candidate if that recommendation is adopted.

Now he has to choose which pledge he breaks: either that “a decision will be made by the end of the year,” as he told MPs in July, or his famous 2009 promise that there would be no third runway at Heathrow – “no ifs, no buts”.

This continued indecision is deeply damaging for the economy, and it is causing blight for residents who live close to both Heathrow and Gatwick.

It’s vital that questions over the environmental impacts of expansion are addressed; but they must be genuinely investigated and not just used as an excuse to kick the issue further down the road. Aviation accounts for around 6% of UK greenhouse gas emissions and airports have not always been regarded as good neighbours, especially when it comes to noise pollution.

The Airports Commission recommended that an independent noise authority should be created two years ago. This is a sensible recommendation that could have already been implemented without prejudicing a wider decision on runway capacity – so why has the government failed to take action?

We have also taken note of the Environmental Audit Committee’s concerns which were published in early December. Ministers must make sure that when they do bring a proposal before parliament they are doing so on a sound legal basis. There can be no repeat of the West Coast franchise scandal which cost taxpayers over £50m. However, as the Committee itself said, “the government should not avoid or defer these issues”. It’s clear that the report is not a charter for further, indefinite delay.

Labour will study the government’s proposals carefully, alongside any additional material that is commissioned, and we will respond on the basis of our four tests for aviation expansion:

1.That robust and convincing evidence was produced that the Commission’s recommendations would provide sufficient capacity;
2. That the UK’s legal climate change obligations could still be met;
3. That local noise and environmental impacts can be managed and minimised;
4. That the benefits of any expansion were not confined to London and the South East.
We have also set out a set of proposals which would support the wider aviation industry. The National Infrastructure Commission should study the road and rail requirements of airports outside the South East, and the government should confirm the HS2 Manchester Airport Station as soon as possible. These measures are not, however, in themselves a substitute for new runway capacity in the South East.

Aviation expansion is a matter of national significance and, having committed to addressing the problem head on, David Cameron faces a loss of credibility if he ducks the issue now. The UK needs additional capacity, but the prospect of any expansion is now in doubt. The country – and people who live under the flightpaths of both Heathrow and Gatwick – deserve better.”

Lilian Greenwood is MP for Nottingham South, and Labour’s shadow transport secretary.

http://www.citymetric.com/politics/heathrow-or-gatwick-its-make-your-mind-time-david-cameron-1673

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Some comments by AirportWatch members:

At the moment the article by Lilian Greenwood is the clearest we are going to get from Labour. She must know the policy is a muddle, so is sticking rigidly to these four tests. There is a lot support within Labour – and even amongst London Labour MPs – for Heathrow. Labour have correctly worked out that the Government decision to delay gives them at least another 6 months to become clearer on policy. Jeremy Corbyn and of course John McDonnell are against a 3rd runway at Heathrow but their views don’t necessarily reflect that of all their MPs.  It is likely that for a lot of their MPs outside the SE (which is most of them) this is not an issue that is top of their agenda. So the response from these MPs is to give a pretty uninformed knee-jerk reaction as to what they perceive – from all the airport PR and spin – as being best for their constituency.
Can’t see Labour going for Heathrow expansion while John McDonnell is Shadow Chancellor! They might opt for Gatwick (like Sadiq Khan has done) as they have few votes to lose down there.
Maybe Lilian Greenwood could be sent a question entitled “Aviation capacity or climate emissions? It’s make your mind up time for Labour” instead –  asking her to clarify in detail what she means by the second condition ‘ That the UK’s legal climate change obligations could still be met’. The insertion of that word ‘legal’ looks potentially equivocal.
This comment from Lilian Greenwood is aimed at being even handed, but is actually pro-expansion. She believes building more runways is the only option and no doubt would go along with one each at Heathrow and Gatwick with a little further persuasion from the aviation lobby.
Politicians and Sir Howard Davies want people to be pacified with the creation of an INDEPENDENT Noise Authority. We all know that “Independent” means little these days but pro-expansionists love this condition. They love Community Noise Forums too. It all paints a cosy (but erroneous) picture of co-operation and concern for people suffering damage to their health.
There is also a quote about Airplot – “Ms Greenwood said that she had joined the (Airplot) campaign because she had opposed that plan for Heathrow expansion. However, she said that it was different from those now being discussed and she had an “open mind” about whether Labour should back the present plans for a third runway.” Ms Greenwood never bought land, as stated in The Times headline. Even she doesn’t seem to realise that. Confused is one word you could use.
It is irritating that politicians perpetuate the idea that this Heathrow plan is significantly different from the last. As far as I can see it is as damaging as the last, if not more so. The Heathrow villages will still be destroyed, regardless of whether the centre of the destruction is now Harmondsworth rather than Sipson, with Longford being wiped out. (It seems unlikely that the Heathrow Hub option will be selected).

The second point is “That the UK’s legal climate change obligations could still be met.”  AEF have demonstrated very convincingly that a new runway at either airport will in practice mean our legal climate change obligations will not be met. That they ‘could still be’ is the same sort of meaningless fudge Davies hid behind. It is depresisng beyond belief that we may still have to fight Labour Party policy on airports – even with Corbyn in charge. I despair of our political economy ever delivering for ordinary people instead of elites and corporations.

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Sadiq Khan on this morning’s Today programme described himself as disagreeing with Corbyn –  in that Sadiq supports Gatwick expansion.  He is happy to dump the airport misery, of which he is well aware, on Sussex, Surrey and Kent – sadly facts he does not pay attention to as these people will not get the chance to vote against him as Mayor.
Sadiq seems so keen to be ‘the most pro business’ mayor that he seems to want to support Gatwick, and looks like London City airport expansion too…. And seems to have calculated he can do that to people around Gatwick, as they are not able to vote against him. And the are is all Tory anyway. But Sadiq  is miscalculating on the green vote – we will certainly expose him for this, but will first try to get him to see that there can be no new runway at Gatwick either  -for climate reasons

Earlier: 

 

Labour divided as 30 northern Labour MPs back Heathrow expansion, believing it would help their regions

Nearly 30 northern Labour MPs have signed a letter backing a 3rd Heathrow.  The letter to Lillian Greenwood, shadow transport secretary, was signed by members of the PLP Northern Group. They include senior figures such as Chi Onwurah,  Kevan Jones, and Nick Brown. This may be an indication of  the Labour party’s divisions over the issue. Key to David Cameron’s calculations will be whether he can win enough backing in Parliament for Heathrow expansion, given that it is opposed by several of his senior colleagues including Zac Goldsmith, Boris Johnson and Justine Greening. Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell are against a Heathrow runway, but it is not clear if Mr Corbyn would order Labour’s 232 MPs to vote against it.  If as many as 26 Labour MPs from one region are in favour of the Heathrow runway it suggests that Mr Corbyn and Mr McDonnell’s views are not shared by all the rest of the party. The PLP Northern Group hope the regions would benefit from a Heathrow runway, and (like everyone else other than a few with the time and abilities to understand it all) have not read the Airports Commission’s papers in detail – showing negative implications for regional airports from a new runway.  A rather flimsy paper by “Quod”, setting out predictions of growth and jobs for the regions, is the basis of hopes by regional MPs.

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2015/11/labour-divided-as-30-northern-labour-mps-back-heathrow-expansion-believing-it-would-help-their-regions/

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Jeremy Corbyn’s opposition to a Heathrow runway likely to lead to internal Labour party disputes

Jeremy Corbyn – who might become leader of the Labour party – has come out against a 3rd runway at Heathrow. The Labour leadership favourite has indicated in an interview with the FT that under him, the party would not support expansion at Heathrow.  He said: “I think the third runway is a problem for noise pollution and so on across west London…I also think there is an under-usage of the other airports around London. I’d vote against it in this parliament.” If he does become leader (decision on 12th September) this would represent a U-turn from the party’s current stance of supporting the runway, if certain conditions are met. Corbyn’s opposition to a Heathrow runway will have an impact on the London mayoral race, as two Labour candidates are in favour of it, and two against. Tessa Jowell, the favourite to win the nomination, would find herself at odds with her party’s leadership on Heathrow. There are also plenty of moderates in the party who would also rebel against Corbyn.  But airports are purely a lobbying issue for mayoral candidates — they have no actual power over the decision. It is not yet known if there will be a parliamentary vote on a runway, though it will require a lot of public funding (directly and indirectly for years). David Cameron will decide by November whether to accept the Airports Commission recommendation of Heathrow, and if Labour now votes against it, that could fatally undermine the project.

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2015/08/jeremy-corbyns-opposition-to-a-heathrow-runway-likely-to-lead-to-internal-labour-party-disputes/

 

Labour abandons support for new Heathrow runway

McDonnell and Diane Abbott are strongly opposed to a third runway

By Michael Savage and Laura Pitel

Labour has dropped its support for a third runway at Heathrow in a move that risks another split among Jeremy Corbyn’s new shadow cabinet.

The party had backed the recommendation in the summer by Sir Howard Davies, provided noise and air pollution conditions were met. The move had wrong-footed David Cameron, who faces a split over the issue within his party and is yet to rule on whether to back Heathrow expansion.

Lilian Greenwood, the shadow transport secretary, said that she had an open mind over whether the third runway should be supported, with Mr Corbyn known to be strongly against the plan. “I want to look at all the evidence in more depth,” she said. “We’ve got a new leadership team, I’m new to the shadow secretary of state role, and I want to look at it myself. And I want to have discussions with colleagues.

“It’s no secret that there are differences of opinion on this issue in the Labour party, as indeed there are on the Conservative benches.”

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Michael Dugher, the former shadow transport secretary said to be keen on backing Heathrow expansion, is now shadow culture secretary.

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Full article at

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/politics/article4561784.ece

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Corbyn ally, Lilian Greenwood, bought land at Airplot, in 2009, to stop Heathrow runway

By Michael Savage Chief Political Correspondent

22.9.2015 (The Times)

The shadow transport secretary was the owner of a slice of land near Heathrow bought to stop a third runway being built. [Airplot, a scheme by Greenpeace] 

Lilian Greenwood, who was promoted in Jeremy Corbyn’s reshuffle of the Labour front bench, was in a group of politicians, activists and celebrities that purchased and shared a plot of land in 2009 to hamper the airport’s expansion plans. Her participation suggests that she held serious concerns about the construction of a third runway. She has vowed to look at all options over airport expansion, in effect ending Labour’s support for a third runway.

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Ms Greenwood said that she had joined the campaign because she had opposed that plan for Heathrow expansion. However, she said that it was different from those now being discussed and she had an “open mind” about whether Labour should back the present plans for a third runway.

Mr McDonnell was so angered by the Labour government’s approval of a third runway in 2009 that he grabbed the Speaker’s mace. He was suspended from the Commons for five days.

Full article at

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/politics/article4564011.ece

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